Which news do you want first?

I decided to go back to my childhood memories and since I have good news and bad news I shall begin with the good.

lupolianski 224.88  (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
lupolianski 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
When I was a kid, my grandmother used to come from Paris for the summer to be with us in Israel. My mom would get support for some of her strange ideas (like that I should go to sleep early, even during summer vacation) but I heard lots of juicy family stories and some interesting sayings, like "homework is less important than an additional hour of sleep." Grandma also used to say that if you have good news and bad news, you should start with the good, "because you never know, perhaps meanwhile things will get better and the bad news will evaporate." So, today I decided to go back to my childhood memories and since I have good news and bad news regarding the goings-on at Kikar Safra, I shall begin with the good. Who knows what could happen meanwhile? After all, this is Jerusalem, a place unlike any other. So here's the good news: The municipality plans to install 45 special shelter in various outdoor locations in the city, to shelter us from the summer heat and sunlight. Imagine you'd like to rest on one of the stones in a public garden, but hey - it's almost 36 degrees out and even the stone feels like an oven. Well, no more. Mayor Uri Lupolianski has decided that citizens and visitors alike will enjoy spending time outdoors without fear of the sun. Why didn't we think of it earlier? The bad news is still waiting to be told, but I really want to stick with the good news. The Green Globe Award, the ultimate prize for those who act to preserve a healthy environment goes this year to… Lupolianski, for his action against the big bad Safdie Plan and subsequent preservation of the green hills surrounding Jerusalem. Well, we have to get back to reality: I've run out of good tidings and the bad is still around. If you have a car and you face some difficulties finding a parking space or you feel that parking is becoming a burden on your budget - sorry, things are not going to improve: 25 additional parking inspectors are scheduled to join the 130 already in action. Why? Very simple... this is a very easy way to raise money for the municipality's coffers; Parking ticket revenue was only NIS 27 million for 2006, if you really want to know. And that's not all, there's more: Remember Yossi Havilio, the municipal attorney fired by Lupolianski? Well, he is still around - since he appealed his dismissal, he has become untouchable until the court delivers its ruling. So, now that he is in a way safer, Havilio has become even more daring. Earlier this week, he announced to the mayor that he, Havilio, will represent the mayor's opponent in court, stating that his job is "to represent the municipality and the citizens' interest, which in this case, is not the mayor's interest." Oh yes, I guess you'd like to know what this is about? In one sentence it would be "two haredi associations fighting over a plot of land." But it's more, much more than that. One association, Zichron Zvi (connected to the mayor's party Degel Hatorah), received from the municipality a certain plot in a haredi neighborhood. However eight years on, for various reasons Zichron Zvi didn't complete its development plan for the plot, although the law allows for only three years. Meanwhile, the educational institute that the building was meant for was shut down by the state because it was not complying with educational standards. So the plot was taken back by the city, and another association asked for it. But then it became known that the new association, Zot Habracha, is connected with Agudat Yisrael, which is a traditional opponent of Degel Hatorah. Agudat Yisrael and Degel Hatorah, both Lithuanian haredi political parties, have an alliance for convenience in United Torah Judaism yet still remain essentially separate, and rival, camps. Pressure on the mayor from his peers in Degel Hatorah made him act a little beyond his authority, says Havilio. Lupolianski gave orders not to publicize - as required by the law - the availability of the plot, hoping to pave the way for Zichron Zvi to get it back. Zot Habracha decided to appeal to the court against the municipality. Havilio made it clear to the mayor that he would not allow his gambit to succeed and announced bluntly that he would represent Zot Habracha, and added that he would not allow the mayor to be represented in court by a private attorney at the taxpayers' expense. "This time, the mayor will have to pay out of his own pocket," declared Havilio to the mayor's people. "The mayor cannot afford not to help the Zichron Zvi association," explains a source at Kikar Safra. "MK Moshe Gafni, from Degel Hatorah, has presented a bill that would eventually give the mayor the power to lawfully prevent the gay parade, instead of the actual situation, where it is the police's prerogative. This is something very important for Lupolianski, and he must show a little gratitude to Degel Hatorah." In a written statement, municipal spokesman Gidi Schmerling responds. "The Jerusalem Municipality regrets that the city attorney refuses to represent it or offer alternative representation."